Explore the Negara area
We've explored the area around Negara to scout out interesting places to go, things to do that are away from the crowds. It's a scenic area to drive around – we recommend simply getting lost here.
Perancak fishing boats
• If you get to Perancak in the morning, you have a good chance of watching the fish being sorted and off-loaded from the boats
• It gets really hot here around the middle of the day. You might be more comfortable in the early morning or mid- to late afternoon – and there's like to be more activity then, too.
Fishing boats at Perancak
There are so many different types of fishing boats around Bali, and the ones that harbour in the river mouth at Perancak are probably the most spectacular on the island. The boats – called perahu selerek in Indonesian – have a crew of about 20 and operate in pairs, so you will always see two boats moored alongside each other. A pair will be painted in almost identical patterns and colours, with one referred to as the male and the other a female. If something happens to one of the boats and it can no longer be used, the remaining one is referred to as janda, a widow.
Sea and fishing conditions determine when the boats will be out, so it is likely that only a handful will be in the harbour – the wide river mouth – when you visit. Even so, it's well worth a visit.
If you're hungry
There are a few simple restaurants (with clean bathrooms) at the river mouth.
Sacred Heart of Jesus Church
• The church is usually open and you’re welcome to go in. If it is closed or would like further information, you can contact I Nyoman Hendrikus on +628123632332.
• Normal dress code is appreciated but a sarong is fine for covering bare legs.
• Take time to explore the Goa Maria gardens with the 14 Stations of the Cross.
• A 4km drive northwest through the lanes will take you to Belimbing Sari, where there is a sizeable (although not as spectacular) Protestant church.
Sacred Heart of Jesus Church
Drive about 7km north of the main West Bali highway and, shortly before the windy road finally gives up the ghost altogether among the uninhabited jungle-clad hills, you’ll come to a stop in front of one of Bali’s most unexpected buildings. Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church was established in Palasari, an area that the Dutch government considered was remote enough so as not to "corrupt" the island’s Hindu inhabitants.
Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church is the centre of worship for about 1,300 Catholics and many of the rites (along with much of the decoration) share much in common with Balinese Hinduism. Walk through the heavy wooden doors and you’ll find yourself in an elegantly arched nave, stretching 50 metres to an ornate altar, which is decorated with yellow and white parasols of the sort that you would see in Hindu temples on the island. Outside you’ll see penjor temple decorations and canang sari offerings made in the usual prescribed colour-scheme for the Hindu trinity.
Behind the church (to the northeast) you’ll also find what it known in Indonesia as a Goa Maria – a small park with grottos and caves (goa) that represents the "Stations of the Cross" and is a central venue for Easter processions in the Catholic community. Look out for nutmeg trees: Palasari is named in Indonesian for "scent of nutmeg".
Christianity got off to the rocky start on Bali. The very first convert – having been evicted and ostracized from his own community – subsequently murdered the Dutch missionary Reverend de Vroom in 1881. That unfortunate convert was promptly sent to meet his maker after being displayed in a cage as a deterrent to others. Bali was subsequently declared off-limits to all missionaries for the next 48 years.
The Palasari Dam is a short drive from the church. Head up here and you can drive across the dam wall; there are a few picnic spots under the trees. People often come here to fish, and apparently boat trips that can sometimes be done (although we've not found any information regarding this).